‘It’s Rough Out Here’: A VICE Guide to Making Friends

Fear of vulnerability can turn into loneliness, and loneliness can turn into depression.

Nov 8 2021, 6:00am

It’s always been hard to make new friends as an adult, and the pandemic has only made it harder. Being a newly-single man can just add to the challenge.

After an emotional breakup, our producer Sam Eagan discovered that his circle of friends had pretty much disappeared and he was desperate to find some new ones after suffering through a couple weekends with no plans.

Reaching out and trying to make connections wasn’t easy, but Sam put in the actual work to navigate his relationship to masculinity and loneliness. And along the way, he began to question what his approach to making friends revealed about himself. 

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“In men that I hold dearly in my life, I see fear of vulnerability turn into loneliness,” Sam said. “I see loneliness turn into depression. And I see depression turn into rage.”

On this episode of Vice News Reports, Sam and fellow producer Sophie Kazis answer the question that many of us fail to think about until we reach adulthood: How the hell do you make friends as a grown-up?  Because in a moment defined by so much isolation and anxiety, The VICE Guide to Making Friends is a reminder that, in the end, we’re all just seeking connection.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts: Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple 

CREDITS:

This story was produced by Sophie Kazis and Sam Eagan. 

VICE News Reports is hosted by Arielle Duhaime-Ross and produced by Jesse Alejandro Cottrell, Sophie Kazis, Jen Kinney, Janice Llamoca, Julia Nutter, and Sayre Quevedo. Our senior producers are Ashley Cleek and Adizah Eghan. Our associate producers are Steph Brown, Sam Eagan, and Adreanna Rodriguez. Sound design and music composition by Steve Bone, Pran Bandi and Kyle Murdock. 

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Our executive producer and VP of Vice Audio is Kate Osborn. Janet Lee is Senior Production Manager for VICE Audio.

MORE: 

Here’s How Actual People Made a New Friend as an Adult 

How to Be OK With Being Alone Right Now

———————

TRANSCRIPT:


SAM EAGAN: It is, um, it is, um, August 6th it’s 3:30. I am in Laramie, Wyoming, um, and over the past two days, I was dumped by my longtime partner. And I’m very sad, very sad. But, uh, what I think is weird is, um...fuck.  What I think is weird is...as much as I love her, like, it's, it's less about the relationship and more just me realizing that I am very alone and I don't have a lot of friends and I'm afraid to go back to New York and be alone and deal with this alone. And I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. I don't know.

[VICE NEWS REPORTS THEME, REMIXED ]

ARIELLE DUHAIME-ROSS: This is Vice News Reports, and I’m your host, Arielle Duhaime-Ross.

SAM EAGAN: And I'm Sam Eagan, a producer with Vice News Reports. 

[THEME FADES]

DUHAIME-ROSS: So Sam, this summer you tweeted something that I wanted to talk to you about.

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SAM EAGAN: Let’s talk about it, I’m ready to go. Let’s do it. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: I have it right here. 

SAM EAGAN: Let’s hear it 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Do you want me to read it for you? 

SAM EAGAN: Read it for me, yea.

DUHAIME-ROSS: You said, “Truly have no clue how people make close friends in New York without them porting over from college. I have lived here for years now and struggled to develop any serious close relationships. No idea how any of y'all do it. It's honestly rough out here.”

SAM EAGAN: Yeah it is rough out here. Um I mean, I’m 26 years old, I moved to New York City about three years ago for graduate school, and then I basically graduated into the pandemic… And when I tweeted that I was  sort of in the midst of a like, long-developing breakup. The kind that occurs over like a few months and you can feel that it's coming, but nobody really wants to let go of it. And I was like, acutely becoming aware, I was like, what am I going to do for any sort of human interaction when this relationship inevitably ends? So I put out a tweet. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Mmm

SAM EAGAN: Yea

DUHAIME-ROSS: Like, what exactly is your situation when it comes to friendships right now? 

SAM EAGAN: So, I have a few people who I would say are like teetering on, like, sort of like deeper friendships, but no...like there's nobody here who I would be like, that is like my best friend in New York. 

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DUHAIME-ROSS: Is that something that you want? 

SAM EAGAN: I would love to have a best friend here. Like I come from a like a very bro-y environment and I, I don't deny that, like I own it

DUHAIME-ROSS: haha,

SAM EAGAN:  but bros know how to be friends to each other, I think largely. And that's something that, like, I miss and I crave deeply.  

DUHAIME-ROSS: Okay, putting the term “bro” aside for a second...I get it! Right? Everybody...I think a lot of people crave, like, that close relationship. Like a best friend. And I want to get into that a little bit more, but like, first, can we go back a little bit? Like where do your friends actually come from? 

SAM EAGAN: So I, was lucky enough to be decent enough at wrestling to get uh, to get a college athletic scholarship, to go to University of Wyoming. I think to this day, the closest, like, personal bonds I have are from my time like competing at Wyoming. I don't know how I couldn't have made close friends doing that though because you wake up at 5:00 AM and lift together. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Right. 

SAM EAGAN: You go to practice for three and a half hours together. And then you live together. And it's a lot of people that, like, would have nothing in common with really like outside of the fact that we love wrestling like completely different lifestyles. And still like I would still consider a lot of them, my closest friends. Yeah.

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DUHAIME-ROSS: So you kind of developed this like brotherhood that is really difficult to recreate in any other environment, right? Because it's, you're forced to spend all your time together with these people. 

SAM EAGAN: Yeah. And wrestling is such a miserable sport. And I think you like very quickly develop this, like, deep bond, that's like rooted in violence. 

As much as I loved it, and it was really great in a lot of ways for me like it's clear looking back, that like  // there’s a lot of...my coaches will hate to hear this, but there's a lot of toxic masculinity // and it cultivates this sort of culture where the most important thing about you is that you are tough. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: So how does that impact your friendships then? 

SAM EAGAN: That's a...that’s the million dollar question. And like, I think I'm still sort of figuring that out, but, um, like I worry that I'll never feel that deep of a bond again, in a real way. And like, it scares to be really honest with you  it scares the to be really honest with you it scares the fuck out of me.

DUHAIME-ROSS: Yea 

SAM EAGAN: It’s, like, profoundly lonely. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: So Sam, you still have some friends from college, right? Like, what do those relationships look like now? 

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FRIEND 1: Hello?!


SAM EAGAN: What up?


FRIEND 1:  Hello brother. 


SAM EAGAN: I think we're live. 


FRIEND 1: Are we live, are we doing a podcast right nowwwww? 


SAM EAGAN: I think we're doing a podcast. 


SAM EAGAN: My two closest friends are Ben and Brock. 


FRIEND 1: That wasn't as good as the first one. Let me try that. Uh, so I heard you had me on the pooodcaaaaaaast? 


SAM EAGAN: Hehehehe


[CALL OF DUTY MUSIC]


SAM EAGAN: Today, we connect mostly through, through video games. The wrestling team is what initially connected us. So like most of my friends, they decided to stay out west. And so our lives look  look pretty different right now. 


Brock is this super avid outdoorsman, hunter. Pretty conservative guy. Little bit grumpy. Um, and Ben is just this goofy, lanky dude from, from Wisconsin, who we sort of bonded over, like, our shared leftist politics. 


[CALL OF DUTY GAME SOUNDS]


FRIEND 2: Oh hello. Hello brother. It would be a shame if I killed your ass.


SAM EAGAN: Right now we're playing a lot of Call of Duty, Call of Duty War Zone, which is this, like, battle royale game. 

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[MUSIC]


SAM EAGAN: I just got brutalized, brother.


SAM EAGAN: On the weekends, especially in the pandemic, it was like just on Friday night, I’d turn off my computer and I’d pretty much immediately turn on my PlayStation and me and my closest friends -- Ben, Brock and my other friend from college, Luke -- we just start playing Call of Duty. 


And I wanted to talk to them about, like, the process of making friends. Because I’ve seen this sort of shared lifestyle that we’ve lived together -- wrestling, this hypermasculine culture -- it’s it’s damaged us emotionally, I think. And I wanted to know if they could speak to that too.


[MUSIC FADES]


[VIDEO GAME SOUNDS]


FRIEND 3: I dunno. I feel like, I feel like, like my dad, but my dad had friends in college and then he just like, never talked to them again. And that's probably would be the case of like you guys. // But now that we have video games, I can talk to you guys like every day.


SAM EAGAN: Yeah.


FRIEND 3 : It’s literally like phone calls for phone calls for men is what, this is FaceTime for men.


DUHAIME-ROSS: And you're just talking to them the whole time, right? 


SAM EAGAN: Yeah. We're just, we're on voice chat. So it's like we're in the same room playing together.

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[VIDEO GAME SOUNDS]


[MUSIC]


FRIEND 1: But so like when you're like, you know how, when you're like fucked up, you need to do it at a bar. And you're like talking about some random shit. He's like, oh, let's go fucking do this tomorrow. And you're like, yeah, let's fucking do it. Like, let's fucking like, go on this hike or whatever. And then you wake up in the morning and like, neither of you text each other. Because for me, it's like, I was like, oh, that dude, just like, that was just drunk talk. But like, I'm like, yo low key, like text me, I'm bored. Like I got nothing going on. Let's go actually do it. And I feel like, like we have that, like, problem of like following through, but I feel like the following through part is just like, you think the other person doesn't actually want to do it.


SAM EAGAN:  I think there's also 


FRIEND 1: When in reality. They probably dId want to do it.


 FRIEND 2: There's also, like, a level of awkwardness. 


SAM EAGAN: Yeah. I was going to say vulnerability, but then like one in the same. Right? Like, cause like there's a lot of vulnerability that goes into asking someone to be your friend. 


[MUSIC FADES]


SAM EAGAN: And it made me think about how often I think that specifically other men don’t want to, like, hang out or connect, you know? Um, but really, like, everyone wants to make friends. And for some reason or another, they just don’t want to say so. And I think that the big hangup for so many of us is just vulnerability.

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DUHAIME-ROSS: Yeah I mean, that’s interesting...because now we’re drilling into something that seems more akin to masculinity, right? We’re talking about masculinity. So I do think this fear of vulnerability is worth interrogating. Is that what you’re looking for though? More vulnerable friendships with men?  


SAM EAGAN: Yeah, that’s, that’s exactly it. I’m I’m looking for someone who...I can just show up at their house and be like, what’s going on? And they're just like, come in and we don't do anything. It's very informal. Someone who, like, takes comfort in your company without having to share an activity. 


DUHAIME-ROSS: You want somebody that you feel comfortable enough to sit in silence, or just not feel like you're performing the whole time? That's what I'm hearing. You just want to feel comfortable with someone. 


SAM EAGAN: It kind of takes a lot for me to be, like, comfortable around a person in in silence.


DUHAIME-ROSS:  So what are you willing to do to make this happen and develop real friendships in New York? 


[MUSIC]


SAM EAGAN: Well, I mean, top of being willing to do this all live on a podcast and make an ass of myself, I am, uh, I feel like, sort of, I feel like the universe is telling me that I need to put myself out there and like put in the like actual physical work to like make those kinds of bonds. 

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DUHAIME-ROSS: I'm excited for you, Sam. This is very cool. 


SAM EAGAN: Yeah. I'm a little nervous, but we'll see how it goes. 


[MUSIC]


[MUSIC FADES]


SOPHIE KAZIS: Testing 1, 2. Sam?


SAM EAGAN: Okay.


SOPHIE KAZIS: Go grab your phone.


SAM EAGAN: Testing 1. I am in Sophie Kazis' apartment here in, uh, in Brooklyn. About 4:30 in the afternoon. And I am about to get on the internet and try and make friends on the interwebs.


DUHAIME-ROSS: So Sam.


SAM EAGAN: Arielle, How are you? 


DUHAIME-ROSS: Last time we talked about you trying to make closer friends in New York City.


SAM EAGAN: Yea


DUHAIME-ROSS:  Right? 


SAM EAGAN: Yea


DUHAIME-ROSS: And from what I recall, you were going to try and kickstart that process. So how did it go? What did you do? What's going on? 


SAM EAGAN: As millennials are ought to do, it started on the dating apps. 


SOPHIE: Let's do Bumble BFF.


SAM EAGAN: I uh, I went over to my producer Sophie’s house.


SAM EAGAN: Alright. I’m on Bumble.


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SOPHIE: So you're already on Bumble...for dating?


SAM EAGAN: For dating. Been swiping.  And I've never done this, but we're going to go from the dating mode to the BFF mode. 


SOPHIE: Click.

SAM EAGAN: Done. 

SOPHIE: And how do you feel about that? 

SAM EAGAN: Fucking bizarre. It's so weird. I don't really want to. Hehehehe. It makes my palms kind of sweaty. Um, I dunno, drops, drops the ego about 10 notches. You know, it's a, it's a, it's a it’s a vulnerable moment, but only really in my mind, there's no one else here to witness it, but fuck it. We're going to, we're going to do it, I guess. 

SOPHIE: All right, let's do it. 

[MUSIC]

SAM EAGAN:  Um Scott. [reads profile]   “I work remotely. I barely know anyone. So looking to make friends, I want to have a bud to play soccer and go out for drinks. Ideal BFF date -- we go out to a bar and just talk. I don't know. I've never tried to make a friend on an app. Haha.” That's fair. I'ma swipe right, just for being honest. 

SAM EAGAN: And I went through that with, with Sophie for a little bit, and I just, I gotta be honest with you, I found it to be so bizarre...

DUHAIME-ROSS: Hahaha. Why?

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SAM EAGAN: Like I just, I, I could not, I was just like, I just feel judgmental cause I'm like, I look at like two pictures of this person, and I'm like, left, left, left…

SAM EAGAN: David, I'm swiping left. Daniel, left. Havok, left. Yugi, left. John, left. 

SAM EAGAN: It was a little weird.

SAM EAGAN: Left, left, left, left…

[MUSIC FADES]

DUHAIME-ROSS: You had a few conversations with people?

SAM EAGAN: Yeah. A few real, real brief ones. Like I messaged like one, one guy who I thought, like thought could be pretty cool, but then he unmatched me actually. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Oh, 

SAM EAGAN: It’s okay

DUHAIME-ROSS: That sounds, you know, kind of so-so. Okay. So what did you do next? 

[MUSIC]

SOPHIE KAZIS: Let's switch gears.

SAM EAGAN: Yeah, so I think what I'm going to do, I think what I'm going to do is just get on my Instagram. Hehe. And, uh, put on my story. I want to do something like, “Are you a man in your 20s?” Yeah?  “Are you a man in your twenties? Do you want to be my friend?” 

SOPHIE: That's straightforward. 

SAM EAGAN: “DM me.” With a bunch of exclamation points. 

[MUSIC FADES]

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SAM EAGAN:  I actually got a bunch of responses.  But one of the first messages I got was from this guy that I met, like, two years ago now, this guy named Chaz. I met him at a party and we, like, just really hit it off. It was a really good time.  And I’ve just, like, wanted to, like, be his friend ever since.  And then like the pandemic happened and we just followed each other on Instagram and, like, sent each other memes for like two years.

DUHAIME-ROSS: So wait, you've just been corresponding on Instagram for two years? 

SAM EAGAN: Something like that. Yeah. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: That definitely sounds like that has potential. 

SAM EAGAN: Yeah,  he was one of the first people that came to mind for me just as, like, someone who we were like acquaintances, but that I would, like, want to take that, like the next step with.

DUHAIME-ROSS: To the next level.

SAM EAGAN: To the next level. Yeah. Um, and... 

[BAR SOUNDS]

SAM EAGAN: We exchanged info again and met up at a bar. 

SAM EAGAN: What up?! 

CHAZ: I lost my wallet. 

SAM EAGAN: Oh fuck, really?…

SAM EAGAN: Like I, like, I recorded the like, the greetings and that was it. And I turned it off and I was like, let's just like, get to know each other. 

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DUHAIME-ROSS: Okay. But did you have a good time?

SAM EAGAN: What's up y'all.  Just uh, finished hanging out with my boy Chaz haha.  Kind of drunk, uh, walking home. I had a good time. Cool dude, man. Good catching up.  COVID just stole years off of our lives. Definitely open to kicking it with him again. He’s a good dude.

SAM EAGAN: I got a little bit too drunk and had a really good time.

DUHAIME-ROSS: That's great. Does Chaz, like, also feel this need to make a friend in New York City? Did that come up?

SAM EAGAN: He has a group of friends. He lives with a bunch of a bunch of guys. But like he nonetheless seemed open to being, to being friends.  And then we were actually gonna uh hang out that next Sunday and watch football. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: So wait, at this friend meetup at the bar, you're already making plans for the next time you're going to hang out?

SAM EAGAN: Uh, yeah. Yeah. We were like, let's watch football together this Sunday. And I was like, for sure. Um, but unfortunately Sunday rolled around…

SAM EAGAN: What's up everybody.  Just disappointed, you know, I was looking forward to getting to know the guy a little bit better. 

SAM EAGAN: ...and I texted Chaz and I was like, what's up? Like, like what's the plan? Didn't respond. 

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SAM EAGAN: I mean no hard feelings and I'm sure I'll hear from him sooner than later, but yeah. Didn't have the craziest weekend once again. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: You got ghosted?

SAM EAGAN: I wouldn't call it ghosted because he continued to send me memes. Hahahahaha.

DUHAIME-ROSS: Huh.

SAM EAGAN: And we've, like, texted again since, and I think we're gonna, I mean, it's like, you know, it's life, like people get, people get busy. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Did he explain why he couldn't meet?

SAM EAGAN: No, we didn't talk about it. I wasn't gonna be pushy about it. I probably I probably should’ve asked.

DUHAIME-ROSS: So where are you at now? Like in your head? With this whole making friends thing?

SAM EAGAN: It's like, just like the getting to know people stage is just shitty and like awkward kind of, and like, you almost like want to like fast forward to like, “I've known Chaz for years. Like we go way back.” Like just like shooting the shit, me knowing everything about his life. Me knowing about him. Like in the same way that people want that in dating, like, I would like love that in a friendship and it's like...I...it's just hard. Like some days it just like, you get like real down on yourself about it. You feel like a loser. You feel like no one wants to hang out with you. You know? 

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SAM EAGAN: What's up y'all? Uh, it's Friday night. It is 8:13 PM. And I'm not doing a fucking thing. I just walked to get some takeout. Uh, got no plans, super fucking cool. In my mid-twenties in the most fun city in America, the most fun city in the world... Nobody invited me to do a damn thing. 

[MUSIC]

SAM EAGAN: Other days I feel, I feel more positive. 

DUHAIME-ROSS:  So as I'm listening to you, what is your experience of all of this so far? 

SAM EAGAN: Um. I think that...God, this sounds so fucking shitty to say. I think that like maybe internally to make friends, you have to be vulnerable and to be vulnerable is to be feminine. And I have been taught that if I'm going to be a damn thing, it's not feminine. That's wrong. I shouldn't be feminine. You know? 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Oh, that’s so interesting. 

SAM EAGAN:  There was a moment earlier on during this process when I was, when I was swiping on Bumble... 

[MUSIC FADES]

SAM EAGAN: He wants to go on a walk in the park with me. 

SOPHIE: That sounds nice. 

SAM EAGAN: My producer, Sophie, was like, oh that sounds nice. 

SAM EAGAN: Nah nah nah.  I mean, like, I don't know. 

SOPHIE: Maybe we'll get there. Maybe we'll get to that comfort level. 

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SAM EAGAN: I wouldn’t go on a walk in the park with my best friend. Like Ben or Brock, I would never in a million years be like, do you want to go walk in the park with me? 

SAM EAGAN: I was just like, fuck that. No way. That's like something that I would do on a date. 

SOPHIE: I just want to, like, unpack that a little bit. What? Where does that come from? What is going on there?

SAM EAGAN: I didn't really know why in the moment, but uh,  Sophie kind of pushed me on it afterwards and, like, yeah. It's like, that's like a deeply homophobic reaction. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: You were like, “That’s so gay.”

SAM EAGAN: God, I don't want to fucking say that.

DUHAIME-ROSS: I can say it. I'm the queer one. So I will say it. But like, partially that, that was a little bit what your reaction was.

SAM EAGAN: That's that's the, like my hand, my hand on the stove reaction is like, “That's so gay.” 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Mmm

SAM EAGAN: Um, and then like two minutes later, I'm like, that's homophobic. And like I know it as, as it happens,  and like that, that just means that that's like what's in my underlying head at all times. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: It's interesting to me because it's like a deep seated fear of doing something that to you feels very intimate with a man. 

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SAM EAGAN: And like when you label it intimacy, intimacy is dope. Why am I conditioned to hate something that we all crave so deeply?

[MUSIC IN]

SAM EAGAN: I don’t know, I don’t have the, I don’t have the words -- but, like, someone has the answer. Not me haha.

SAM EAGAN: Hello.

PROFESSOR WAY: Hello, Sam.

SAM EAGAN: Is it Dr. Way? Niobe? Professor Way? What do you prefer?

PROFESSOR WAY: Probably Professor Way.

SAM EAGAN: So I called up someone who I thought could help me figure this out. And that’s after the break.


[MUSIC]

[MUSIC FADES]

***BREAK***

[MUSIC]

PROFESSOR WAY: People oftentimes think that research on friendships is sort of spouting a bunch of opinions. But uh I want to underscore that whatever I say to you, Sam, comes from over 35 years of research with thousands of young people. 

[MUSIC FADES]

SAM EAGAN: So that’s Professor Naobi Way.

PROFESSOR WAY: I'm a professor of Developmental Psychology studying social, emotional development. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Okay, I’m listening. Tell me more.

SAM EAGAN: For decades, she’s been studying how boys and young men think about and form friendships.

PROFESSOR WAY: So I heard a story from boys/ that really is a, is a larger cultural story.

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When you listen to 11, 12, 13 year old boys, and this is in primarily in the United States, boys talk about their need and desire for close friendships, particularly in close male friendships,  they're very explicit using very emotional language, very sensitive language, talking about loving their best  friend. They're looking for people to really share their deep secrets with.

And then, uh, as boys get older,  for the most part, the pattern is  -- as the pressures to “man up” and become a, sort of stereotypic man --  they start to disconnect from their own desires for friendships. All of a sudden that beautiful, sensitive, delicate, open, honest truth, telling voice of these young boys, starts to sound much more defensive.

And still in this culture in 2021 adults oftentimes wonder if this is a little dated when I say this, but it's not. We still think close emotionally intimate friends is sort of girly and gay and we're still a, you know, a culture that looks down on girls and gay people. 

Rather than, actually, it’s at the essence of our humanity.

[MUSIC IN]

Because it's about having feelings, being articulate about our feelings, valuing relationships, prioritizing relationships, doing all the things that we need to thrive as humans that we've demeaned into being feminine and having a sexuality. Haha. We've I mean, I'm laughing. It's not funny at all. It's just, it's just, it's twisted. 

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SAM EAGAN: So, like, she's telling me this, and everything she’s saying is like to be honest like  just mapping right onto my, like, personal lived experiences. 

PROFESSOR WAY: So that creates a problem. Boys struggle with entering a culture that doesn't match what they want in their lives. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Okay and so, did Professor Way give you any pointers on how to actually build, like, those close bonds and and break through that isolation?

SAM EAGAN: Yeah, she definitely did. So one thing she mentioned specifically was being more of an active listener and really inquiring about people and asking questions in conversation. And when she said that, I started thinking about, like, whether I actually do that in my life. And like, I’m a journalist -- like I ask questions for a living -- and I’m kind of fucking terrible at it in my personal life.

And then something else she brought up which really stuck with me was just how much we emphasize the importance of, like, romantic relationships in in our life over all else. And, like, I’ve seen the consequences of that in my life. Like, my dad’s only real close friend is my mom. And like, there’s no way that’s been easy on their relationship, you know? 

PROFESSOR WAY: We are creating our own suffering.  We need multiple relationships. We need all types of a real plethora of close friendships and relationships with all sorts of people.  And so the fact that we focus on one partner is so anti-human, because it's terrible for both sides of the relationship. And then it creates exactly the problem, Sam, which is that you're not focusing on putting effort into other relationships because you're focused on finding a romantic partner.  Um, and then figuring out, that's my next question to you, Sam, I'd love to hear something that you did that sort of worked.

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SAM EAGAN: Maybe this isn't as, like, smart of an answer as as it could be, but like, I really think just trying.

PROFESSOR WAY: Yeah!

SAM EAGAN: Like, literally just being like, “Hey, do you want to hang out with me?”

PROFESSOR WAY: Totally!

SAM EAGAN: Like, like I've been surprised at how people are just like, “Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Sure.” And it feels, it feels really like hard to do. Like I hate it,.  Um, as I've talked to people and as I've done this, I'm, I'm less embarrassed about it now, although my hands are still a little sweaty right now.

PROFESSOR WAY: First of all, that's what I was going to say. If you didn't say it, I was hoping you would say it, which is just, just do it. Just take the risk, do it. So it really is Sam, this mission to find you a friend or friends has to really be seen as how do we begin to change the culture? 

So that as you move forward in your life, haha,  I want you to look at every single person you're interested in being friends with and know that their deepest desire is to be deeply connected to other people. It may not be you as the focus of who they're interested in. You know, it obviously depends on the context. But they're all having the same desire. 

[MUSIC]

SAM EAGAN:  After the break, I take Professor’s Way’s advice and put myself out there...

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[MUSIC FADES]

                    ***BREAK***

SAM EAGAN: Look at this guy. Uhhh. What's up Brian? You’re early my friend. 

BRIAN: I’m about 2 minutes early.

SAM EAGAN: One minute early.

SAM EAGAN: Since sort of like midway through COVID, I've been like meeting up on, on Thursdays with this, this group of guys to play bocce ball, at a park in Brooklyn. 

KEEGAN: Hi. I'm Keegan.

SOPHIE: KAZIS Hi, I’m Sophie. Good to meet you. 

KEEGAN: Hey, good to see you too, man.

SAM EAGAN: I like those pants.

SAM EAGAN: I had this sort of existing acquaintance and he invited me like in the Spring of 2020. And it's like nothing serious, like super casual. We, like, have some beers, hang out. 

KEEGAN: Evan is here.

BRIAN: What’s up Evan?

KEEGAN:  The whole crew is here now. 

BRIAN: Cheers, I’m Brian, man. 

SAM EAGAN: So this past Thursday, like we met up to play, and I brought along my producer, Sophie, with us.

SOPHIE KAZIS: And you guys are The Bocce Boys?

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SAM EAGAN: Yeah, we’re the Bocce Boys.

KEEGAN: Ball Guys.

BRIAN: Boys of Bocce... Bocce Balls, Anthony Bauci 

SAM EAGAN: Anthony Bauci is my favorite. 

KEEGAN: Is still being disputed. 

SAM EAGAN: And like, I've been wanting to like, get closer with them, but like, just, you know, for one to reason or another it just never happened. 

BRIAN: You want to throw? Wait, we're blue? We're red, like the blood of our enemies.

SAM EAGAN: So there's this guy named Keegan. And I think we just connect on the like, similar senses of humor, played sports really, really down to earth guy. 

SAM EAGAN: How do you feel about Bumble BFF? Have you been on it yet? 

KEEGAN: I've never used it. I’m like, I feel like I don't put myself out there when I am like trying to find friends. I don't like go on apps. 

SAM EAGAN: How do you meet people that way? 

KEEGAN: I, I don't. I meet, I meet, you guys like naturally, I guess, I don't know. You know, sometimes you just, you come in contact with people with a certain energy. 

SAM EAGAN: Keegan's a bit more introverted, and we were, like, talking about how, like, it can be hard to make friends. 

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KEEGAN: I think to my detriment, I like never reach out to people and I need to be better about that. 

SAM EAGAN: But then, Keegan does do exactly that -- he reaches out -- and the guys invite me to this concert. 

KEEGAN: There are a couple of shows in October that we should go to.

BRIAN: Yeah. I have a whole list.

[JAZZ MUSIC PLAYS]

SAM EAGAN: Oh shit. Look at him go... God damn. Whooooo!

SAM EAGAN: It was fun, it’s fun to let loose, get outta your comfort zone…I mean it’s not showing up at a friend’s house unannounced, but it’s, like, a good step. And it’s just fun to be invited to shit, you know?

[JAZZ MUSIC FADES]

SAM EAGAN: But yeah, I’d say it was a really fun night. It was a successful night for sure. 

SAM EAGAN: Uh, what up it's, uh, it's like almost 11. Uh, I am walking home. I feel like me and Keegan really hitting it off. I don't know, like he had a lot to say about how, like, he feels like his friend group is like sort of totally tied to his girlfriend, which like, I feel, I feel in my past relationships. But yeah. I feel like we're hitting it off. Um, you know,  I guess it shows that like, you can do it. You can make friends if you try, if you put yourself out there, but yeah. All right.

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[MUSIC]

SAM EAGAN: But it turned out to be one of the last times I’d get to hang out with Keegan, at least for a while, because he told me that he’s moving out of town.

DUHAIME-ROSS: Like moving away from New York City? 

SAM EAGAN: Moving away from New York City. Yeah. Yeah. I was like, fuck man. Like, it's like, oh, it's like, it's like in dating when you go back to square one. You're like, fuck, I gotta like, start this shit all over again. 

[MUSIC FADES]

DUHAIME-ROSS: You know, it's interesting for me because the last thing that I want to do most days is feel bad for a cis-hetero white dude. 

SAM EAGAN: Yeah. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: You know? And also like, it must be really, really difficult to walk through life having these mental barriers that are so deeply rooted and so deeply tied to your self worth. And I think the thing that I, that comes to mind for me is that this isn't just about you, 

SAM EAGAN: Mmhhm

DUHAIME-ROSS: Right?  Or, or just about cis-hetero men. This is about the relationships that those people then form with women, non-binary folks, trans folks, gay men, other people. That impacts everybody. Right? Their ability to form intimate relationships, that impacts everyone. And so there ends up being this interesting dynamic. It's a difficult dynamic, frankly, where women and non-binary folks have to do all of this emotional labor in order to extract emotions from some cis-hetero men. And it, just it's, it's exhausting. And that's not, that's not a you thing. That's an everyone thing. 

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SAM EAGAN: It is. And it's like, it makes me sad. Yeah. Like, I live every day the consequences of, like, toxic masculinity and as you said, so does everyone else.  I see in men that, like, I hold dearly in my life, I see fear of vulnerability turn into loneliness. I see loneliness turn into depression and I see depression turn into rage.

[MUSIC]

SAM EAGAN: This is uh...this is where the magic happens, our weird little dark studio.

CHAZ: Nice.

SAM EAGAN: Based on how things have been going, I decided that I really wanted to keep pushing my friendship with Chaz forward. We’ve seen each other a few of times since we last met at the bar. And I have been keeping Professor Way’s advice in my mind andI really want to talk to him. So I invited him to the studio at VICE. 

SAM EAGAN: Alright, so there was a point where maybe we were gonna watch football and I hit you up and I was like ‘we doing this?’... ghosted me, dawg. 

CHAZ: I know, my bad about that. I think I was just hungover.

SAM EAGAN: That’s okay, I just had to ask. 

SAM EAGAN: And we start talking about what we’re looking for in friendship and what’s important to us in a friend. 

CHAZ: What I’m looking for is like the trust in someone else that they don’t have anything in their heart like for me but genuine friendship. 

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I mean, I feel like that’s, like, one of the reasons why I really like like you. Cause I know I could say something to you, and no matter what it is, I’m not going to be like judged. 

SAM EAGAN: What made you think that like you could trust me?

CHAZ: I don’t know, well probably because like the first time we met we talked for, like, a long time.  But it was also just like a feeling. Sometimes you know like you know like your gut feelings are right, you are like are naturally drawn to someone and want to hang out with them.

SAM EAGAN: I feel similarly. And it’s like, the only parallel I can think of is when you go on a date, and it’s one of those like dates that ends up being like an all-day date. You know what I mean?  Like it’s a very, very similar thing.

CHAZ: Those are the best kinds. And it’s really rare. But, um, when it happens, it’s great.

[MUSIC]

SAM EAGAN: I will say, like, I think the biggest thing that I got out of this is as Professor Niobe Way said, like everyone has sort of yearning for connection. And like, it's easy to feel like you're the only one. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Mm hmm.

SAM EAGAN: When we first started, like, taping this, I was like, you are like a close friend to me if you showed up at my house unannounced or vice versa, it would just not be...

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CHAZ: An issue.

SAM EAGAN: It’s just like, come in.

CHAZ: Just like, come in, yeah.

SAM EAGAN: If I showed up at your house unannounced…?

CHAZ: I’d be hyped. I’d be like let’s do something. I mean...I told you at my birthday party when my girlfriend was trying to kick people out, you were like, is it okay if I stay? And I was like no, you’re part of the crew I want to be here. 

SAM EAGAN: Hell yeah, man. Well I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to do that now.

CHAZ: You pull up whenever, bro.

SAM EAGAN: It was like kind of weird at first, but, like we've actually hung out like a few times since, like I would say we're like

DUHAIME-ROSS: Oh!

SAM EAGAN: Yeah! Well, I would say like, we're actually becoming like reasonably close friends slowly.

DUHAIME-ROSS: That's amazing. 

SAM EAGAN: Yeah! It's cool. It's nice to have someone...

DUHAIME-ROSS: ...and he's answering your text messages now? 

SAM EAGAN: Yeah. We've been hanging out. Yeah.

DUHAIME-ROSS: So I know that like, this was a real thing that you wanted to do. You really did want to find some like male friends. Do you think this worked? 

SAM EAGAN: This is like an ever ongoing process. Right? But like, has it helped? Yes. I know more about what I want out of friendships. I know more about, like, the type of friend that I am. So I would say that it's working.

DUHAIME-ROSS: OK

SAM EAGAN: Yeah. 

SAM EAGAN: I don't want to sound like I figured this all out. 

DUHAIME-ROSS: Yeah. You just like, you're like, this is the first step on a very long journey. 

[MUSIC FADES]

[VICE NEWS REPORTS THEME MUSIC]

DUHAIME-ROSS: Special thanks to Ben, Brock, Luke, Keegan, Brian and Chaz.

VICE News Reports is produced by Jesse Alejandro Cottrell, Sophie Kazis, Jen Kinney, Janice Llamoca, Julia Nutter, and Sayre Quevedo. Our senior producers are Ashley Cleek and Adizah Eghan. Our associate producers are Steph Brown, Sam Eagan, and Adreanna Rodriguez. Sound Design and music composition by Steve Bone, Pran Bandi, Natasha Jacobs and Kyle Murdock. 

Our executive producer and VP of Vice Audio is Kate Osborn. Janet Lee is Senior Production Manager for VICE Audio. 

Our theme music is by Steve Bone. 

I’m Arielle Duhaime-Ross. 

I know podcast hosts say this constantly but for real, please rate and review this podcast on Apple Podcasts. It really helps people find the show. VICE News Reports drops every Thursday, so be sure to check back in next week. 


Tagged:

masculinity, loneliness, Making Friends, pandemic

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